Study Finds Trees Are Good for Your Heart


If you want to get a number of benefits out of one health tip, try this: Go plant yourself a tree. Recent science shows that living among trees makes people feel subjectively healthierreduces pollutionboosts mental health—and may also be good for heart health, according to new research. 

A study in the journal Health and Place found that a lack of trees might be a risk to women’s cardiovascular health. The study analyzed health statistics in places where an invasive pest, the emerald ash borer, had decimated the local tree population. The beetle was first discovered to be killing Michigan ash trees in 2002, and has since spread to other states, encompassing 245 U.S. counties in total. 

Using longitudinal data from the Women’s Health Initiative, researchers led by the USDA Forest Service, examined links between tree loss and the cardiovascular events for the 156,000 women in the initiative’s data pool. More than 14,500 post-menopausal women in the sample suffered a heart attack or stroke or died from coronary heart disease during the study period of 1991 to 2010.

The researchers found that even accounting for factors like exercise frequency, women who lived in a county where the emerald ash borer moved in and started killing trees had a 25 percent increased risk of heart disease. 

This study can’t prove without a doubt that living without trees causes heart attacks (maybe some other unexamined environmental factor upped the risk of heart attacks during those years). And it didn’t sample men, about one in four of whom will die of heart disease. However, given the wealth of other studies indicating that trees benefit your health, it wouldn’t be surprising if they also keep your heart healthy, especially because of their stress-reducing effects.

[h/t: Pacific Standard]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

This Just In
What Do You Get the Person Who Has Everything? Perhaps a German Village for Less Than $150,000

Looking for a gift for the world traveler who has everything? If cost isn't an issue and they're longing for a quiet country home, Fortune reports that an entire village in East Germany is up for sale. The tiny hamlet of Alwine, in Germany's Brandenburg region, is going up for auction on Saturday, December 9. Opening bids begin at $147,230.

Alwine has around one dozen buildings and 20 full-time residents, most of them elderly. It was once owned by a neighboring coal plant, which shut down in 1991, soon after East Germany reunited with West Germany. Many residents left after that. Between 1990 and 2015, the regional population fell by 15 percent, according to The Local.


In 2000, a private investor purchased the decaying hamlet for just one Deutsche Mark (the currency used before the euro). But its decline continued, and now it's up for grabs once more—this time around, for a much-higher price.

Andreas Claus, the mayor of the district surrounding Alwine, wasn't informed of the village's sale until he heard about it in the news, according to The Local. While no local residents plan to purchase their hometown, Claus says he's open to fostering dialogue with the buyer, with hopes of eventually revitalizing the local community.

[h/t Fortune]


More from mental floss studios